Forbes has already declared Apple Music a failure, but maybe Apple is already winning for artists. That’s because Apple demands a subscription payment after three months, and unlike Spotify has no ad-supported tier. That guarantees a higher payout per stream, and a better deal for artists.
Other free-only sites like Pandora, SoundCloud, and YouTube, among others, are paying near-zero royalties to artists while amassing users in the tens of millions. See the problem here?
“Free is a real issue.”
Now, one the largest tech companies in the world is taking a stand. “Free is a real issue,” said top Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine at Vanity Fair’s Summit 2015, as covered by the Verge. “This whole thing about freemium, maybe at one time we needed it. But now it’s a shell game.”
Technically speaking, all of these services are legal. But are they ethical? “These companies are building an audience on the back of the artist,” Iovine continued, while pointing to a deeply-ingrained bias towards free content in the tech sector. “We always waited for somebody to come out of the woods and do distribution for us,” said Iovine, referring to his earlier tenure as CEO of Universal Music Group division Interscope.
“That doesn’t work because the tech companies will come out and ask you to do it for free.”
But will music fans join the paid revolution? So far, Apple executives are being super-cagey about Apple Music’s paid subscription level, and that includes Iovine. Meanwhile, major labels are pushing for less free, and according to rumors, potentially pushing Spotify towards gated, premium-only content tiers.
Image by Brian Harrington Spier, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).